6 things you definitely shouldn't do during the London Marathon

Runners taking part in the 2023 London Marathon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Next weekend, over 40,000 people will pin on their numbers, limber up, and hit the streets for the 2024 London Marathon. Many of those people will be running for charities, some will have secured their places through a Good for Age entry, a few are members of England Athletics affiliated running clubs, a handful are elites, and some are lucky ones whose names were picked from over half a million entrants into the general entry ballot.

However they got there, every person will have to adhere to certain rules, some of which might come as a surprise. Here are seven things that you absolutely shouldn't do at the London Marathon 

Hit the pub early

Some London pubs might open at 8am, but sneaking in a pre-race drink would be an extremely bad idea. Not only will it affect your running, but it will also lead to you being ejected from the event. Consumption or use of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited, and the race organizers deem you unfit to take part if you've indulged beforehand. That pint will taste much better after 26.2 miles.

Ride a horse

Or indeed take any pets or animals of any description onto the course. There's no CaniCross at the London Marathon – it wouldn't be fair to your dog, or to other runners. If you want to take part in an event with your four-legged friend, take a look at the Time Outdoors CaniCross race calendar, and our list of top tips for running with your dog.

You can, of course, run the event for an animal charity, or dress as one yourself, which brings us to the next point...

Runner in bear costume taking part in the London Marathon

Provided your costume doesn't pose a danger, and doesn't get in the way of other runners, go for it (Image credit: Getty Images)

Take costumes too far

People have set Guinness World Records for completing the London Marathon in all kinds of costumes. From monarchs to milkmen, there's a record for almost everything you can think of. One person even completed the race in just over four hours dressed as a three-dimensional aircraft.

There are limits, though, and you're not allowed to take anything into the starting pen that may harm you or another runner, or "could potentially inhibit the flow or safety of other participants". Best time for a runner dressed as a crowd-control barrier is probably out of the question, and if you're planning to attack the very impressive time set by a runner dressed as a pirate, take a foam cutlass rather than a real one.

Use a friend's bib

Speaking of rules, it might seem harmless, but running under someone else's name (a practice known as race banditing) is a big faux pas. The biggest problem is that when you sign up for a race, you're asked to give details of any medical conditions and an emergency contact number. If you're running with someone else's race bib and you fall off the pavement, the medical staff won't know that you're allergic to paracetamol, or the right number to use to call your partner to come and scoop you up.

The rules stipulate that "participation in the event is personal to you. You are strictly prohibited from swapping, selling or transferring or offering to sell, swap or transfer the place in the event or allowing any other person to wear the Event number."

If caught with someone else's number, you both risk being disqualified not only from this year's race, but future ones too. Not worth the risk.

Wear a (very) rude T-shirt

Another thing you definitely shouldn't wear is a particularly sweary T-shirt. The London Marathon is an event where everyone should feel safe and comfortable, so doing or wearing anything that's likely to cause offence is against the rules. It's up to the race organizers to decide where to draw the line, but it's best to play it safe and keep any slogans on your running top safe for work.

Try to wing it

Visit any social media group dedicated to the London Marathon this week, and you'll doubtless see several conversations started by people who've left training until beyond the 11th hour, and are contemplating the wisdom of trying to run anyway. While there's no mandatory amount of preparation for the race and nobody will be testing your VO2 max before allowing you to cross the starting line, by taking part you acknowledge that running is an endurance sport, and you should only take part if you know you are fit enough.

The rules also state that "you are responsible for monitoring your own physical condition prior to and during participation in the event", so if you feel a twinge in your glutes and ignore it, you have only yourself to blame for the literal pain in your butt.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.